Andy Samberg is quite the enticing lead actor. He's young, hip, a popular side act on Saturday Night Live and his most viral sketch, "Dick in a Box," performed with singer Justin Timberlake, has been watched, re-watched and recited countless times by the bulk of America's youth. And best of all, he's not Will Ferrell.
Rod Kimble (Samberg) is a loveable doofus. His dad died attempting an Evil Knievel-type stunt jump, and Rod's ambition is to one day jump 16 schoolbuses. In the mean-time, he'd settle for winning a single bout of weekly hand-to-hand combat with his stepfather, Frank (Ian McShane from HBO's Deadwood). Unfortunately, Frank needs a new heart, and without a costly replacement surgery, Rod will never get the chance he desperately wants to lay a hurt on his mother's (Sissy Spacek) husband. So Rod's "crew" devises a scheme to raise $50,000.
Part Napoleon Dynamite and part Samberg's prior SNL music videos, Hot Rod is a completely ridiculous take on the underdog story. Over half the film is laugh-out-loud funny while the rest feels like every other modern slapstick comedy. Screenwriter Pam Brady (The Loop, South Park) and first-time big screen director Akiva Schaffer (Saturday Night Live) both cut their teeth in popular television, which shows.
Samberg's first leading role is a good one, and with time and a pairing with quality production teams, he could become great. Don't expect this one to become a cult favorite, but the high points are better than Ferrell's films, mostly thanks to Samberg.
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